June 09, 2016

AutomatticUnless you’re a PHP guru, WordPress theme development has a steep learning curve. WordPress is popular among users with a modicum of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript knowledge, but unless you have a fair bit of PHP under your belt, attempting to develop a WordPress theme can be a confusing endeavor.

Drag-and-drop page builders exist to reduce the difficulty of developing semi-bespoke WordPress themes, but they tend to be resource hogs, to say the least. The best option for users with a little web development knowledge who want to get started in the WordPress world is a tool like Timber or a starter theme. One of the most popular starter themes is Underscores, which is developed by Automattic. As Automattic puts it, Underscores gives developers a thousand-hour head start.

Underscores significantly reduces the complexity of creating a WordPress theme, but with its minimal CSS and barebones approach, developing a theme on Underscores isn’t a walk in the park. The team at Automattic wanted to make things even easier. Components is their attempt to provide a set of starter themes with a more opinionated approach to theme development.

Components is, as the name suggests, a set of reusable patterns that conform to the most popular site-types that WordPress is used to build. Essentially, Components builds on top of the Underscores theme to provide a series of more advanced starter themes with prebuilt foundations for the sites developers are most likely to build.
The line-up includes starter themes for:

  • Magazine sites
  • Classic blogs with a sidebar
  • Modern blogs with a single column and slide-out menu
  • Portfolio sites
  • Business sites

The business theme is a great start for small business owners who don’t want a cookie-cutter free or premium theme, but who aren’t in a position to have a developer create a bespoke theme from the ground up. It includes a custom header, testimonials, and content areas.

Each of Component’s packages includes layout patterns that don’t impose a specific design aesthetic, well-organized SCSS, and mobile-first layouts with mobile-friendly components.

It’s worth stressing that the packages are starter themes; they’re not ready for production environments, nor are they suitable for someone with no web development experience (unless you want to learn). If you want a fully pre-built theme, the WordPress Theme Repository is your best bet. But if you want an easy way to create a custom WordPress theme for your blog or website, Components is a great place to start.


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